The scoop: Lenovo ideaPad U260, by Lenovo, starts at $900.
What it is: This slim notebook is designed for mobile workers who want a light notebook for traveling, but with some of the latest features and functions for getting their work done. Highlights include a 12.5-inch HD widescreen, Intel Core i5-470UM processor (on our version tested, i3 is also available), 4GB of RAM, a 320GB hard drive, and 4-cell battery. The system we tested also included an integrated 0.3 megapixel webcam, Lenovo's Veriface face recognition software for login, Dolby Advanced Audio stereo speakers, and an HDMI out port.
Why it's cool: The system also included its "Breathable Keyboard," a chiclet-style keyboard that is spill-resistant (very nice for users with kids in the house) -- the keyboard also can dissipate heat from the notebook through the keys. Our system also came with the Clementine Orange magnesium-alloy top and bottom, a nice stylish touch. (You can also pick Mocha Brown if you want).
Bundled software included Lenovo's OneKey Recovery, Energy Management Software, DirectShare and Security Suite. The system also included ooVoo video software and CyberLink YouCam for Web video chat. Microsoft Office 2010 is preloaded, but you have to buy/activate it in order to use it.
The performance was slightly better than my current production computer, a Dell Latitude D620. In using the Windows Experience assessment tool, the U260 was better in all categories, especially in terms of gaming graphics (4.6 rating vs. 3.2). The processor was slightly faster (5.7 vs. 5.0 rating), as was memory (5.7 vs. 5.0, despite having the same amount of RAM). Disk transfer rate was also faster (5.9 vs. 5.0), and the big difference was hard disk space (320GB vs. my wimpy 100GB drive). The light weight (3 pounds) definitely was a plus over my bulkier notebook.
Some caveats: Getting the light weight means no optical drive, and there were only two USB ports, which could make things tricky for users (like me) who prefer to plug in external storage, mice, iPhones and other USB-enabled peripherals.
Grade: 4.5 stars (out of 5)
The scoop: PowerLift Back-up Battery & Dock, by Kensington, about $50.
What it is: This is a combination back-up battery for an iPhone or iPod with a docking station that lets users synchronize with their PCs. It also can be converted into a stand that allows the iPod or iPhone to display vertically, good for apps like Facetime and watching videos. The device includes an LED battery indicator light and power check button to let you see how much juice is in the battery.
Why it's cool: The three-in-one nature of the device makes it more practical than carrying around a separate synchronization cable, stand and backup battery. The small size makes this great for travel purposes.
Some caveats: The built-in USB cable is very short, which means you have to have it directly next to your PC. If your USB ports are not on the side, it creates an awkward location for docking/synching.
Grade: 4 stars
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This story, "Lenovo U260 a light workhorse" was originally published by Network World.